Chapter 11Political Socialization and Public Opinion To Accompany Comprehensive, Alternate, and Texas Editions American Government: Roots and Reform, 10th edition Karen O’Connor and Larry J. Sabato Pearson Education, 2009
Political Socialization • The way people acquire their political values. • Family members. • School and peers. • Media, especially television. • Religion. • Demographics: race, ethnicity, gender, age, and region. • Outside events.
History of Public Opinion Polls • Successes of Literary Digest from 1920-1932. • Used straw polls to make predictions. • Literary Digest was incorrect in 1936; error in sample. • George Gallup made correct prediction. • Gallup was a pioneer in scientific public opinion polls. • Continues to be successful today.
Conducting Public Opinion Polls • Determining content and phrasing questions. • Selecting sample. • Common methods are random or stratified sampling. • Contacting respondents. • Random digit dialing is most popular.
Types of Political Polls • Push polls are used to influence opinion. • Tracking polls are taken on a daily basis. • Exit polls are taken after leaving a polling place.
Shortcomings of Polling • Must consider margin of error. • May make errors in selecting the sample. • Polls limit respondents’ options. • People may not have enough information to answer. • Measures of intensity may be imprecise.
Influences on Public Opinion • Political socialization. • Personal benefits. • Political knowledge, or lack thereof. • Cues from leaders. • Political ideology.
Effects of Public Opinion • May influence the course of public policy. • Some critics argue this weakens democracy. • Creation of bandwagon and underdog effects.
Figure 11.4- The Gallup Poll Back